Jay Sirmans ~ Gator Man of Rays Mill, GA

Jay Sirmans of Rays Mill, GA circa 1899

Jay Sirmans of Rays Mill, GA circa 1899

Jay Sirmans (1864 – 1916)

Jay Sirmans was born during the Civil War, April 16, 1864 in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA . His father was Hardiman Sirmans, well known Confederate veteran and planter of Berrien County.

On 22 March 1893 Jay Sirmans married Rachel Allifar Smith (born July 30, 1869) daughter of Mary Jane Whitehurst and John Woods Smith.

The couple made their home near Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA next door to Jay’s father, and Jay engaged in farming.

In February 1899 a son arrived in the Sirmans household. Perhaps it was fatherhood that encouraged  Jay Sirmans to seek enterprising opportunities for supplemental income, or perhaps it was the renowned exploits of his father.

Homeplace of Rachel Smith and Jay Sirmans. Left to right: John Hardeman Sirmans, Jay Sirmans, Jay Mitchell Sirmans, and Rachel Smith Sirmans. The Jay Sirmans home was located about 3 miles out of Ray City on what is now Cherokee Rose Road. Image courtesy of http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

Homeplace of Rachel Smith and Jay Sirmans. Left to right: John Hardeman Sirmans, Jay Sirmans, Jay Mitchell Sirmans, and Rachel Smith Sirmans. The Jay Sirmans home was located about 3 miles out of Ray City on what is now Cherokee Rose Road. Image courtesy of http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

What ever the reason, in the summer of 1899, it might be said that Jay Sirmans was up to his armpits in alligators.  The Valdosta Times reported the story.

Valdosta Times
Tuesday, July 25, 1899
A Big ‘Gator

Nashville. – A monster Alligator nine feet and nine inches in length was brought to town the first of the week by Mr. Jay Sirmans who with others captured him in Ray’s Pond after a hard fight during which his gatorship was severely gigged in the side.  Mr. Carson, the cattle buyer, had offered a good round sum for a large one to ship West alive, and it was for this purpose the ‘gator was brought here, but the wound in his side was of such a serious nature that he died from its effect soon after reaching here. No doubt he would have been a genuine curiosity in the land of the Rancheros.  – Berrien County News.

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7 Comments

  1. September 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    My father, John Jay Sirmans was named after John Woods and Jay Sirmans, both fathers of his grandparents. Jay Mitchell Sirmans was my grandfather. Jay Mitchell Sirmans died of pancreatic cancer and my father died of cancer of the esophagus at the age of 64. My brother, John Jay Sirmans son, John Allan Sirmans died of renal cancer at the age of 49. My mother married John Jay Sirmans, her name is Ruby Geneva Jones (Bessie Griner & Harris Jones). They had 4 children, John Allan Sirmans, born 8/30/1948, Geneva June Sirmans-Calderhead, born 11/9/1949, Carla Kay Sirmans-DeLauder-Zsigray, born 4/5/1954 and Susan Lynn Sirmans-Ault, born 11/22/1955.

  2. September 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Carla, thank you for sharing your family history. The Sirmans have certainly been one of the first families of Ray City and Berrien County. If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out the Sirmans family album at the Berrien County Historical Photos site http://www.berriencountyga.com

  3. November 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    There is a gentlemen who has written many books on the Lost Colonies and believes that the Sirmans family may have been one of them. They did not die during the winter but the colony was taken off of the island and crossed over frozen ice by American Indians. These are today still there and are fair skinned with light eyes. The professor and college that is working on I will give to you when I log back in after Thanksgiving. cz

  4. G. June Calderhead said,

    December 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Just to make a correction. I am the oldest daughter of Geneva and John Sirmans. My brother John Allan Sirmans passed away in 2001 at the age of 53 years. He was not 49.

  5. G. June Calderhead said,

    December 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Our father John Jay Sirmans passed away at the age of 67 years. Not 64.

  6. Pat Miller said,

    August 26, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    My Mother and Father loved your family….Mitchell was kin and good friends with Mama and Daddy and Mama grew up in the settlement where Geneva was raised….Mama was Marjorie Garner Sirmans Gaskins and Daddy was Hyman Hardeman Sirmans ( Brocy )

    • March 8, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Pat. I remember my mother talking about your mother. Your mother was a good friend and a cousin to my mother. They went to school together. I believe they called your father Hardeman…


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